Monday, August 12, 2013

Simcha Fisher's Final Footnote for College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?” 
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

The first post, by Matt Warner, can be found here.
Below is the 2nd in the series, from Simcha Fisher. Simcha is one of my favorite bloggers and just finished her new book - The Sinner's Guide To Natural Family Planning.

Here is Simcha's Final Footnote:
Inch Your Way To The Stars.

Did you go to any graduation ceremonies this year? Did any speakers instruct the graduates to reach for the stars? Spread their wings, make a difference? Did he give the impression that right outside the door of the auditorium was a spring-loaded launching pad which would, with a loud twanging sound, propel the new graduates up, up and away to their shiny new lives?

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Oh, good things will happen to you. You may even achieve greatness. At very least, it’s likely that someday, years from now, you will feel proud and amazed at what you have managed to accomplish. You may – dare I say it? – reach the stars.

But you’re not going to get there with a flash, a swoosh, an exhilarating rush and a triumphant landing. Nope, you’re going to get there inch by inch by inch by inch by inch. After all, even actual astronauts who reach the actual stars have to spend a lot of time just getting there. The journey starts with a bang, but most of it is quieter, more mundane, more workaday.

This is how life happens: inch by inch. This is how you succeed at things. This is how you make progress, and this is how you manage to get wonderful things done: a tiny bit at a time, with false steps, dead ends, fits and starts, and a fair amount of backsliding and repentance.

The most important things in life that you can achieve – good relationships with your family, meaningful work, a faith that is steadfast and courageous – these things only come about with years of practice. They may start with a bang – with a proposal, a conversion, a birth, a sudden resolve. But you need more than a flashy beginning. You need to set about the actual work of following through, inch by inch, day by day.

The good news is, there is real satisfaction in even the tiny, incremental steps we make toward greatness. It’s nice to win a prize out of the blue, but a thousand times more gratifying to go from amateur to expert, and then be recognized for your work. It’s fun to be swooning in love, but nothing fills your heart like looking into the eyes of your beloved, knowing that you’ve made a long slog together and still come out friends. It would be sweet to land a dream career before you get your graduation gown off, but it’s even sweeter to know that you’re capable of working hard even when you don’t like the work, and then to finally find yourself positioned to do the thing you really love. And it’s all very well to make fervent vows of faith, hope, and love before God, but it’s quite another to humbly admit that what we need most of all is help.

So yes, aim high. But don’t be discouraged when the day-to-day feels kind of low. Be patient with yourself! Inch by inch, that’s how it happens.

1 comment:

Acerbica said...

Well said! Just like doing ordinary things with extraordinary love transformed Mother Teresa into a living saint, approaching our daily work with the best love we can muster will do the same for us. I'm changing diapers and reading board books for God!